§ 3. Even that love which is duty in heathens, &c., is defectuous.
§ 4. We cannot love others truly and meritoriously till we first love God.
§§ 5, 6, 7. All affections not proceeding from charity are to be mortified.
§ 8. All intellectual creatures are the objects of our charity, except the damned souls and devils.
§ 9. Of the order of charity.
§§ 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. Those are most to be loved (even above ourselves) whom God loves most. Yet certain duties proceeding from love, as honour, sustenance, alms, &c., are first to be extended to parents, friends, &c., and especially to ourselves.
§§ 15, 16, 17. Further proofs of this.
§ 18. Whether beauty, &c., may be a motive of love.
§§ 19, 20, 21, 22. Of love extended to enemies. Who are esteemed enemies.
§ 23. Great grace required to practise this duty aright.
§§ 24, 25. Degrees of love to (supposed) enemies, and the fruits thereof.
§ 26. Of a special kind of love called Philadelphia, or love of the fraternity of believing, holy, Christian Catholics.
1. Before we end the subject of Divine love, something is to be said of love to ourselves and our neighbours, in and for God. For as for the love which out of God we bear to ourselves or any others, it is not worth the treating of, as being altogether defectuous and grounded in nature, and the more vehement it is the more defectuous is it.
2. The right ordering, therefore, of our love to ourselves and our brethren consists in this: 1. That the motive of our love must be the Divine will and command.2. The ground thereof must be the relation in which we stand to God, as capable of the communication of Divine graces and beatitude.3. The end must be to bring ourselves and others (either by our endeavours, exhortations, &c., or by our prayers) to God, that He may be loved and glorified by us, in the doing of which consist our perfection and happiness.4. Lastly, the subject of this love must be the superior will especially: as for tenderness of nature, distracting solicitudes, and unquiet images in the mind touching those we love, the best and safest course would be to mortify and diminish them as much as may be, as proceeding from a natural sensual affection, the which, as far as it does not flow from the superior soul, and is not subordinate and directed to the love of God, is defectuous.
3. Hence appears, first, that affections in persons that are strangers from the true faith, are full of defectuousness in all the particular respects before mentioned. For though, for example, the love which children owe to their parents, and the affections mutually due between husbands and wives, &c., be for the substance according to the law of nature and right reason, and consequently so far conformable to the Divine will, so that the want or refusal of such love, and the neglect of the duties and offices required by such relations is a great sin; yet there can be no merit either in such love or the effects of it, by reason that it is neither from the motive of Divine charity nor directed to the glorifying of God by perfect love, from which all merit proceedeth.
4. Secondly, it follows from hence that we can neither meritoriously love ourselves nor our brethren, till first we are firmly rooted in the love of God, because charity to ourselves or others is indeed only love to God by reflection, or the loving of God in things belonging to Him, and which He either loves or may love.
5. Therefore an internal liver ought to mortify all sensual affection to creatures, -- I mean all particular friendships and intimacies which are not grounded upon the necessary foundation of the Divine love; and as for such affections as are necessarily due by virtue of some respects and relations that God has put between ourselves and any others, such an one ought, as much as may be, to root them out of the sensual portion of the soul, because there they will cause great distractions and hindrances of our most necessary love to God.
6. A serious care to practise according to this advice is very necessary, especially in religious communities, both for our own good and others'. For besides that sensual friendships grounded on external or sensual respects are most unbeseeming persons that have consecrated themselves only to God, and infinitely prejudicial to abstraction and recollectedness of mind, and much more if they be between persons of different sexes, such particular intimacies cannot choose but cause partialities, factions, particular designs, &c., to the great disturbance and harm of the community.
7. The least defectuous amongst the grounds of a particular friendship may be the resentment and gratitude for benefits, especially spiritual ones, that have been received. But yet even in this case also we ought to prevent the settling of amity in the sensual part of the soul, and content ourselves with requiting such obligations by our prayers, or by a return of proportionable benefits.
8. Now charity is to be extended to all intellectual creatures, that is, to all angels, and all men whether alive or dead, except only the reprobate angels and damned souls, which are not objects of our charity, inasmuch as they are not capable of enjoying God, which is the ground of charity. And the effects of our charity to the glorified saints and angels must be a congratulation with them for their happiness, and for the love which they bear to God, and which God will eternally bear reciprocally to them. To all Christians dying in the faith of our Lord, and not yet purified, we must testify our charity by praying for them, and doing all other Christian offices of sacrifices, alms, &c., for the assuaging and shortening of their sufferings in purgatory. For all Christians alive, yea, all men, we must pray for graces suitable to their necessities; for conversion to unbelievers or misbelievers, and also all those that are of ill lives; for increase of grace to those that are in a good state, with whom likewise we must rejoice for the mercies of God showed to them, and beg eternal happiness to all. Neither must we rest in mere desiring such blessings to all men (our neighbours), but also upon occasions offered do all we can to procure or effect the things we pray for, by exhortations, reproofs, &c. And if to others, much more must we express all these effects of charity to ourselves. And as for temporal good things (as they are called), we are to desire (and procure), both for ourselves and others, so much of them as God knows shall be best for the advancement of our souls in His love.
9. Notwithstanding, though the same charity ought to be extended to all, yet not in the same order nor degree, but to some more than others, and to some also certain effects of it which are not due to others. Now how to determine this order and degrees, though the disputes of many about it are very intricate, yet if we stand firm to the ground before laid, viz. that only God is to be loved by us in and for Himself, and ourselves with all other creatures only for and in God, it will not be difficult to clear this point sufficiently.
10. It is evident that some effects and expressions of love are due to parents, brethren, &c., which belong not to strangers; and some to superiors which are not proper for inferiors or equals, and much more to husbands and wives, which are not due to any other, -- yet love, generally taken, is due to all. Now our love to creatures being, as I said, only the love of God as reflected or reverberated upon those that belong to Him, this variety of effects of love is according to the various impressions of the Divine perfections in several of His creatures; for besides His graces and beatitude, which are common alike to all (at least of which all are capable), and consequently the objects of our love, God, in the first place (as being His own being, and nearest to Himself), has in a small degree imprinted being in us, the conservation and perfectionating of which being ought to be the first object of our desires and endeavours. Again, God as a creator and cause of being is imperfectly exemplified in our parents; and for that reason our parents, next to ourselves, may challenge our affections, and besides our affections, reverence and gratitude, in providing for their subsistence, as they formerly did for ours (except when public good interposes). Again, God as an universal supreme governor has imprinted the character of His power in superiors, for which, besides love, we owe them obedience and respect, &c.; in the paying of which duties we are not to rest with our minds and affections in any of these, but to pass through them to God, in whom resides that perfection in an infinite plenitude for which we express the said respective offices to several of His creatures, so that it is the universal Creator that we honour in our parents, and the supreme King of kings that we obey in magistrates, &c.
11. But, moreover, we are to consider that though no duty that we perform has any merit but as it proceeds from charity, and is commanded and ordered by it, yet love as love, and the proper effect of love as such, may be separated from these duties, the which are to be paid although we did not inwardly love the persons to whom we pay them. Yea, even in regard of God Himself we may distinguish these things.
12. Although God had no farther relation to us than that we have our being from Him -- nay, though we knew not so much -- yet if we knew how infinite His power, wisdom, dominion, &c., were, we could not choose but admire His wisdom, tremble at His power, &c.; but these would not produce love in us towards Him, the object of which must be good -- that is, such perfections as are amiable and render a subject beautiful or agreeable; and withal there must be a possibility, at least in the imagination, that the person loving may in some sort participate of such perfections. Now in God there being acknowledged all the possible perfections that can compose an inconceivable pulchritude, and, moreover, He having signified His readiness to communicate unto us, by an affective identification or union, all those perfections, if we will approach unto Him by love, so requiting the love which He first bears to us -- this is it that makes God properly the object of our love. To which purpose St. John saith that God loved us first, not because we deserved it, but to the end to make us deserve His love, and because we were His creatures, capable of enjoying His perfections and happiness; and we love Him because He loved us first, proposing Himself and His happiness to be enjoyed by love. But because we are not to look upon God as a friend standing upon even terms, but infinitely supereminent and exalted above us, therefore with love we pay most submissive obedience, adoration, humiliation of ourselves, admiration, &c., with regard to His other perfections and relations, which duties are only meritorious because proceeding from love; and they proceed from love because these other perfections are the perfections of a friend, and such as, in all our needs, shall be exercised and employed for our good.
13. Proportionally in creatures those are most to be loved in whom the qualities producing love do most reside, or in regard of which especially we love God and God us -- that is, goodness, purity, justice, charity, and the like; or, which is all one, we are by a pure affection of charity (simply considered as charity) to love those most that God loves most, and in whose souls God by His graces, deserving love, doth most perfectly dwell, and which most partake of His happiness. The supreme object, therefore, of our charity among creatures is the most blessed humanity of our Lord, and next thereto His heavenly Virgin Mother, and after them the heavenly Angels and blessed Saints, and on earth the most perfect of God's children.
14. Now though this assertion doth seem to contradict the common opinion that charity is to begin after God with ourselves, and that after ourselves it is to be next extended to those that have the nearest relations of nature, &c., to us, yet indeed it does not; for although the affection of charity simply considered in itself is only to regard God, and for His sake those that have near relation to Him, and are most like Him in the graces properly deserving love, yet several effects of charity, and of other virtues or qualities in us flowing from charity, are in the first place, after God, to be exhibited to ourselves, and afterward to those that God hath placed near to us respectively, according to the degrees of nearness.
15. For charity being an affection rather of the will than the sensitive faculties, seems to be a certain esteem and value set upon persons, and consequently an adhesion of the will and tendence to an internal union of spirit with them. Now questionless this esteem though due to all (inasmuch as all either do or may participate of God's graces and happiness), yet in the highest degree of it it is most due to those that most deserve it, or that are most like unto God. So that to value ourselves or any mortal friends or kindred before the glorified saints would be irrational and unseemly; charity would then be disorderly, contrary to what the Holy Ghost saith (Ordinavit in me charitatem), He hath fitly and duly ordered charity in me.' True it is that, by reason of self-love and self-interest (which is never wholly rooted out of us in this life), as likewise of the great dominion that sensitive nature oft takes in our actions, we can hardly prevent or hinder love from showing a greater regard to ourselves and our nearest friends; yet as far as it is an affection of the will, so it may be, yea, in perfect souls it is stronger towards those that are nearest to God.
16. But as for some special offices and duties which in us do or ought to flow from charity, they are to be exhibited according as God hath placed persons in several relations to us. Now it being evident that God hath made us nearest to ourselves, and hath intrusted to every particular person the care of his own soul before all others, therefore every one is obliged to bestow his chief solicitude and endeavours upon the adorning of his own soul, and the directing of it to happiness. As for other men, certain general duties of this nature are upon occasions only to be exhibited towards all. Hence we are generally commanded to exhort, edify, reprove, &c., one another. But these duties are to be the employment and particular charge only of those that God hath called to the care of souls, yet so as that no souls are so strictly intrusted to any one as his own, so that upon no pretence can it be lawful for any one to neglect the care of his own soul. And in the extending of these offices of spiritual (or corporal) charity, reason requires that (other circumstances being equal) we should prefer those that have nearest relation to us, except when strangers do stand in far greater necessity, for they are then to be accounted as nearest to us, and, as it were, committed to our charge.
17. Therefore external works of charity and other offices, though they ought all to be paid out of charity (honour to whom honour is due, fear to whom fear, &c.), yet they are not to follow the order of charity, but of proximity; so that in equal necessity we are to prefer our parents, kindred, near neighbours, special friends, in regard of giving alms, &c., before those that may challenge the preference in the affection of pure charity, as being more holy and more beloved of God. It may, notwithstanding, happen that in some cases there may be a doubt how the order of charity is to be observed. But a soul that follows internal prayer will not want a light to direct her. To give particular rules would be tedious and impertinent to the present design; this, therefore, may suffice concerning the order of charity in general.
18. It may be demanded, whether external corporal endowments, as youth, beauty, gracefulness, &c., may be permitted to enter as a motive into the love that we bear to others? I answer that such corporal perfections, being gifts of God, may lawfully, as such, be motives of love, namely, to those that are so perfect as that they can use them as steps to ascend by them to a higher and purer love of God in and for them, who is beauty itself. But as for imperfect and sensual persons, it would be unlawful and a tempting of God to give a free and deliberate scope to their love of others (specially of different sexes), for the regard of beauty, since we know it will powerfully withdraw their affections from God and fix them on creatures after the foulest manner. Therefore the necessary care of ourselves requires that we should not so much as look steadily and fixedly on the temptation of beauty, much less favour the attraction of it.
19. Before we conclude this so necessary a point concerning charity, somewhat is to be said touching the most Christian duty of love to our enemies. True it is that the love of Christ will not permit us to exercise enmity towards any person in the least degree, since charity is to be universally extended to all; but enemies I call those that are in their nature averse from us, or incensed by some provocation, or that are indeed enemies to our holy profession, or that would draw us to sin, &c.
20. As for these latter sort of enemies, they are indeed truly such, and their actions we must abhor, and also with discretion avoid their company; but we must not hate their persons, nor be wanting in any office of charity towards them when occasion is offered.
21. But touching the former sort, of those that (as it is to be hoped), without an utter breach of charity, do in external matters do ill offices to us, or are contrary to our designs, such we ought to esteem as indeed our friends; and, perhaps, if we regard the profit of our souls, we could less spare them than those we call our most officious friends, who do but flatter or nourish self-love in us. It is only as to the feeling of nature that we esteem such to be enemies, but really we are to behave ourselves towards them as God's instruments for our great good; yea, and as far as prudence will permit, we are to judge and believe that they love us, and intend our good in things that they do cross to our nature.
22. Now till we come to a perfect simplicity of thought (which will not be till we approach to a state of perfection), we must be careful neither by words nor deeds to procure them the least harm in any kind; no, not so much as in thought to wish it them. On the contrary, we must love them still, and principally for this, because God loves them and desires their salvation, which (it is to be hoped) He will effectually procure.
23. But to do an office so necessary, yet withal so contrary to the inclinations of corrupt nature, a great measure of grace is requisite, the which is not to be had without answerable efficacious internal prayer seriously pursued; the which, joined with good carriage towards them forth of the times of prayer, will in time abstract the soul from inferior passions and that inordinate self-love which is the root of hatred to such enemies; and Divine love increasing, it will proportionally subdue all other affections to itself, and even compel us to love our enemies for God, according to the most perfect example of our Saviour. And he that thinks to get this necessary love to enemies (or indeed any other Christian virtue) in any considerable perfection without spiritual prayer will find that he will lose his labour.
24. The degrees of our love to (supposed) enemies are such as follows: 1. The first and lowest degree is not to revenge ourselves on them, nor to render evil for evil, by word or deed, in their presence or absence, privily or publicly, &c. (Indeed we ought to behave ourselves with much wariness towards those that in nature we find an averseness from, so as that if we cannot as yet conquer the resentments of nature, we were best to eschew meddling in matters that concern them.) 2. Not to be angry or offended for any ill offices that they may seem to have done us.3. To forgive them whensoever they crave pardon.4. To forgive them before they acknowledge their fault or seek to make amends.5. Not to be contristated at their prosperity, nor deny any offices of charity to them, but to pray for them, to speak well of them, and to do kindnesses to them, to congratulate for any good successes of theirs, and be cordially sorry for their misfortunes, &c.6. To seek occasions of doing them some special good, yea, and for the procuring of such good, to undergo some discommodity, loss, or prejudice.7. To take part in their prosperities or adversities as if they were our own.8. After the example of our Lord, to hazard, and even lay down our lives for their souls' good.9. To conquer all resentment, even in inferior nature, and in simplicity of soul to judge all their ill offices to be effects of their charity, and not averseness. (Yet I doubt whether even in the most perfect the love to enemies can come to be transfused into inferior nature from the superior soul, as our love immediately to God sometimes may be.) 10. To do all this purely for the love of God. These things we ought to do the best we can, and God will accept of our good-will, though our actions be not so perfect as we would wish they were.
25. By such Christian and charitable behaviour towards our enemies, such a Divine virtue will proceed from our actions, that we shall come to gain them perhaps to be our best friends, yea (which is far more considerable), we shall probably gain them to God, if before they were estranged from Him.
26. To conclude this whole discourse, we are to know that there is a peculiar species of charity, which St. Peter makes the next step to perfection, which he calls Philadelphiam, or love of the fraternity, being a certain spiritual affection to all God's children, the which subdues all other inferior regards of nature, and makes our union with them to be purely in God, transcending all other kinds of obligations. And the offices of this virtue are such as cannot be extended to any but such as we know to be truly the servants of God, such as are an inward communion in holy duties of prayer, &c., and a communication of certain charitable offices, which out of an ardent love to God we desire to express to Him, by a choice that we make of His special friends, as it were in them endeavouring to oblige Him after a more than ordinary manner.